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As Vistors Expand, Theme Parks Widen Seats

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NOW THIS IS HAPPENING
DailyFeed
"We listen to the concerns of our customers and continually monitor trends, so that we can modify our offering to ensure we're giving them the very best possible experience," Mike Vallis, divisional director of Surrey, England's Thorpe Park tells the Daily Mail.

In this instance, the trend Vallis & Co. have been monitoring is the ever-increasing girth of their fellow countrypeople.

"The reality is that we are super-sizing -- and that's a fact we're embracing," Vallis says. "Why shouldn't people be comfortable when they are enjoying a day out with their friends or family?"

As such, Thorpe Park has fitted its Nemesis Inferno roller coaster with "two larger seats which cater [to] heftier visitors."

According to theme park trade publication InterPark, "The two extra large, double-buckled seats -- designed for people with a chest of 51 inches or more -- are positioned in rows near the front of the white-knuckle ride," and park management plans to "install the plus-size seating on other rides next year."

With research projecting that fully half of English men and 40% of English women will be obese by 2030 at the current rate, Thorpe Park's seat expansion comes not a moment too soon.

In 2005, Drayton Manor theme park installed "big boy seats" on its G-Force coaster, which was "developed to suit the needs of corpulent riders."

One theme park professional, Andy Hine, chairman of the Roller-coaster Club of Great Britain, was particularly pleased.

"I have a lot of members who are larger and get very upset when they get to a park and queue for two hours and are told they can't get on a ride," Hine told the Guardian. "The designers are doing the right thing. I've seen the embarrassment when people who are not necessarily large, not obese, can't do the seat-belt up. The size of people is getting bigger, and at last someone is addressing that. These are the first special big-boy seats in the world."

Nice as it is that the plus-size crowd is finally being accommodated by the leisure industry, what's a guy to do when a slightly more, ahem, important seat is too skimpy  to handle one's girth?

Enter Scott Kramer, owner of the Los Angeles-based Big John Toilet Seat & Support Company, who says, "Your butt's not too big, your seat's too small."

Thorpe Park, don't you have some restrooms to renovate?

POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.

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